THE health department said Tuesday that the World Health Organization (WHO) will send 1.24 million doses of H1N1 vaccines to the Philippines in April.

Health Undersecretary Alex Padilla said the shipment is expected to arrive next month and will be stored at the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine.

The vaccines, he said, will benefit 10 percent of the country’s population or about nine million Filipinos.

The flu vaccines were donated by several pharmaceutical companies in industrialized countries.

According to the WHO, as of March 21, more than 213 countries and overseas territories or communities worldwide have reported laboratory confirmed cases of pandemic influenza H1N1, including over 16,931 deaths.

Most of those killed by the virus suffered from chronic ailments and came into contact with visitors from the US, Mexico or other countries hit hard by the flu outbreak.

The WHO is coordinating the distribution of the donated pandemic influenza vaccine to 95 countries in order to protect people from developing severe disease from the pandemic H1N1 virus. (Sunnex)